The Hurt Locker

tn_hurtlockerTHE HURT LOCKER is the best movie of 2009 so far excluding all movies about old men who fly around using balloons. It’s a tightly constructed action-suspense movie, but also a character piece and an acting showcase. It takes place in Iraq 2004 and it says something about war, but it’s not especially political. It’s more about a place and a time and a mindset. Nobody in the movie talks about why the Americans are in Iraq or whether they should be. They’re just there. It’s their job, they gotta survive until the end of their rotation (the days are counted down onscreen).

This is the story of a 3-man bomb disposal unit. They get a new team leader at the beginning, and he’s played by Jeremy Renner. I don’t know if his team recognizes him from DAHMER like I did, but shit man, look out. From the beginning he seems a little unstable and alot reckless, and they gotta worry if this will prevent them from getting safely to the end of that countdown.

mp_hurtlockerBut a plot description like that doesn’t do justice to this character at all. He’s not a psycho. He’s not gonna snap like Colonel Kurtz or start talking to fake looking severed heads like Bokeem Woodbine in DEAD PRESIDENTS. He’s addicted to risk and has some kind of a non-vigilante death wish, but he’s human, he’s 3-dimensional, he’s a good guy. The worst things he does are kind of the most sane, the ones he does out of an anger and hurt about what somebody did to somebody he cared about. And this guy is charismatic too. Not like Jim Jones charismatic, more like Martin Riggs. He’s funny, he’s cool, he makes you feel better when he calls you “buddy.”

And I mention Riggs on purpose because I also saw this as a little bit of a deconstruction of the crazy over the edge heroes of action movies. In movies like LETHAL WEAPON he does something insane and suicidal, and you laugh at the other characters getting freaked out by it. In this movie you agree with those other people. This guy is gonna get them all killed.

Renner is perfect in the role, spectacular without being showy. I think he’ll get an Oscar nomination and a bunch of big roles that hopefully don’t waste his talent too much. In fact I’m gonna go ahead and predict that they’ll give him one of the big comic book roles. We can have Chopper as Hulk, Patrick Bateman as Batman and Jeffrey Dahmer as Captain America.

The rest of the cast (including that guy who played Tupac in NOTORIOUS) are also perfect, but the biggest star besides Renner is director Kathryn Bigelow. You know and love her as the director of NEAR DARK, BLUE STEEL and POINT BREAK. She never was hugely prolific and had been MIA from the big screen since ’02, but now all the sudden she’s back and showing today’s male action directors for the little girls they are. She takes that stupid modern shakycam style and applies it with discipline. Admittedly I got a little woozy here and there from unsteady cameras, but I always knew exactly what I needed to know. Any chaos is deliberate, otherwise you know the geography, the stakes, the goal.

An example of how masterfully this thing is put together is the opening bomb disposal sequence. On the surface it’s a terrific suspense sequence and a great guest appearance for Guy Pearce. But also it sets up the whole movie. It establishes the correct procedure for the bomb disposal (so we can compare to later when it’s done incorrectly). It establishes what can go wrong even under the most careful circumstances (so we know what to fear). It also sets up the realistic style of the movie, the casual professionalism of the characters and their sense of gallows humor. That’s another thing Bigelow shows the fellas up for – she keeps a consistent grim tone and still comes up with more laughs than directors who shall remain nameless who can’t stop themselves from interrupting every supposedly tense scene with twenty five lame improvised quips and sight gags.

I don’t consider this a pro or anti war movie, but some people might read it different ways because you can bring your own ideas to it. In the book Jarhead Anthony Swofford wrote that there’s no such thing as an anti-war movie because the soldiers will whoop and holler even if it’s CASUALTIES OF WAR or something. Early on I think THE HURT LOCKER could make war seem glamorous to some people. Their job isn’t about shooting people, it’s about saving lives and limbs by dismantling these roadside bombs. And they have a sort of arrogant pose in the face of death because they’re so good at what they do. They’re cool. But it would be hard to watch it without seeing the conflict they’re stuck in as senseless and fruitless. It’s like they’re stuck in purgatory. They’re there because people are making bombs and people are making bombs because they’re there and all they can do is wait for their time to leave and then somebody else will do it and nothing will change. In their line of work there’s not progress, there’s not a goal to work toward. Just keep dismantling bombs until you blow up or go home. It’s like some ’80s arcade game.

So it carves this precise picture of a surreal zone of hopelessness where these poor bastards are stuck facing these intense situations every day. The movie makes it easy to see through their eyes, seeing that everyone watches them and everyone is a potential threat. They’re trying to take apart these explosives while heads poke out of windows and towers all around and any one of them could have a cell phone that could detonate the bomb. And it’s hard for them to communicate with these people, and the movie usually leaves us with the soldiers, having our suspicions about who’s out to get them but not really knowing for sure. These characters aren’t real abusive towards civilians or anything but they treat them coldly in ways that I obviously don’t agree with, but I can see why they do it. They don’t want to blow up.

The screenplay is by Mark Boal, who knows his shit because he was embedded with a bomb squad. He might’ve also been embedded with a screenwriting class because he knows how to write a hell of a movie. He avoids the standard war movie formulas in favor of an episodic survival kind of structure. Almost all of the war movie cliches are avoided. He might’ve started some new ones though, because the detailed looks at bomb disposing robots and protective suits are interesting material that other directors will want to start including in their movies.

I always liked Kathryn Bigelow, but in many ways this is better than anything she’s done before. It’s great to see someone you were ready to give up on suddenly come back harder than ever.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 12:19 am and is filed under Action, Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

107 Responses to “The Hurt Locker”

  1. Have you read a recent Emerson blog on Roger Ebert’s website, where he talked about the military’s tendency to endorse crap like Transformers 2 instead of quality military depictions like Hurt Locker?. This to me is such a shame, since movies like The Hurt Locker do paint such a heroic picture of what soldiers do, while Bay’s films just use it as a splashy backdrop.

    By the way could you round out your Bigelow reviews with one for Near Dark or Strange Days? Your site is still my favorite thing to do during the workday besides stare at the temp’s ass.

  2. two things Vern

    – Great review

    – Tremendous film, wasn’t sure going in, but by god does the opening grab you and then the film just goes from there. Thought is was going to be jingoistic when Remar turned up, but then you realise he is the way he is because of the things he has to do and its how he copes with the day to day life of the bomb squad. (A good example being the section where he tries to lead a ‘normal’ life and just struggles all the way through to be whats expected).

    One question though, no Miller’s Crossing review, howcome ??

  3. Great review Vern. This was one of the best viewing experiences of recent memory, I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

    I second the request for a Strange Days review, would love to hear your thoughts on that.


  4. One Guy From Andromeda

    July 28th, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Awesome film! Bigelow has been way up in my book since Strange Days, which is also a pretty unusual movie. The two things that stick out most in my memory of Hurt Locker are the cameo by David Morse (can people get oscars for 10 second roles? If yes, give it to him now!) and the split between how Dahmer is depicted in this John Wayne Gung-Ho way you’d expect of an old fashioned american war movie, but at the same time it’s absolutely clear what a seriously damaged person this guy is. It’s pretty rare that you wanna say of a Hollywood movie that it’s deep, but i think this one is. It’s just a shame that nobody seems to be seeing this in the states, or is my impression wrong? It’s all about ferrets with bazookas apparently…

    Great review by the way, Vern. Spoken like a wild man!

  5. This hasn’t made it to my country yet, but I’d already heard good things about it, so it was good to hear another recommendation from someone who also has more of an idea about what makes for good action. I can’t wait to see this.

  6. I had the chance to catch a press screening of this six months ago and I passed for some stupid reason I can’t remember. I’ve been kicking myself ever since. I keep getting distracted by the shiny new sequels and I let this legitimate badassery slip by. I have shamed my ancestors.

  7. I thought of the movie as somewhat apolitical as well, and interviews I’ve read with Bigelow seemed to confirm that. However, the more I thought about the movie, the more I wondered if Bigelow wasn’t just spinning it that way to get more people to see her movie.

    One sequence in particular strikes me as political commentary. Here’s what I wrote on my blog:


    “I said before that the movie is apolitical and mainly concerned with imagine what life must be like for the soldiers. That’s mainly true, except there is one subplot that could possibly be read as a commentary on the war. James strikes up a friendship with a little boy who calls himself Beckham who sells DVDs outside the base. James has a son back in the U.S., and you could argue that his attachment to the boy stems from James missing his son. One day, the soldiers find a cache of explosives in a building, and on a table in the building is the mutilated corpse of a young boy, stuffed with explosives. James believes this boy may be Beckham, and does not take it well.

    When Beckham is absent from the base the next day, James assaults the older man Beckham normally worked with, and hijacks his truck at gun point. James demands that the man show him who killed Beckham. It’s clear that the man can barely understand what James is saying, and is terrified of him. He drops James off at a residence in town, and when James goes in looking for trouble, the man drives away. And of course, after pulling a gun on the owners and generally terrorizing everyone, it becomes clear that these people are just regular folks and not terrorists. So now James is lost somewhere in the middle of Iraq, and has to make his way back to the base alone. Later on, after he’s returned, he goes outside and there’s Beckham, alive and well, trying to sell him DVDs.

    Obviously the argument would be that James’ actions are a sort of microcosm of the U.S. invading Iraq. He becomes involved with a situation he doesn’t fully understand, based on faulty information, and no matter how genuine his intentions he only succeeds in making things worse and harming innocent people.”

    If anyone cares to do me a favor and read my long blog post about THE HURT LOCKER, I would appreciate it.

  8. Mr. Majestyk – You pass up HURT LOCKER but not TRANSFORMERS 2? Go to your corner! :)

    Anyway, I saw STRANGE DAYS some months back and I was surprised to find that instead of an irrelevant cyberpunk actioneer (this was 1995 after all), this was a rather engaging, very good (borderline great) sci-fi/film noir with a better futuristic tech-noir murder mystery than BLADE RUNNER.

    Also, not many Hollywood movies have Ralph Fiennes as the hero.

  9. I think I remember why I couldn’t go to that press screening now. I had already gone to see a sneak preview of Terminator: Salvation that same week, and I couldn’t leave work early again.

    I still think I made a bad call.

  10. You know what, now that I think about it, it might have even been the Friday the 13th remake sneak preview that I saw instead of Hurt Locker.

    This story keeps getting more and more embarrassing. I think I’ll shut up now.

  11. Off-topic Vern, but how about tackling the MANIAC COP movies sometime? They’re the sort of nicely shot entertaining junk that is right up your alley. Also Robert Davi is badass in MANIAC COP 2. I haven’t seen Part 3 (which Bill Lustig, director of the first two, quit and apparently its the dog of the series)

    The first MANIAC COP has some slick thoughts about the public’s take on the Police, and COP folds up all those perceptions, and I guess the inevitable knee-jerk reactions out of fear when this “Maniac Cop” starts murdering people. Then again, this is what I kinda expect from B-filmmaking legend Larry Cohen.

    Sorry for hijacking the thread like this, but without forums, I’m kinda stuck between not elaborating or…well, elaborating. Also I reviewed the first COP. If you all want a good laugh at my rambling long-winded writing, check it out: http://www.awardsdailyforums.com/showthread.php?t=16829

    P.S. – While I’m off-topic, hated to hear about MCA of the Beastie Boys getting cancer, delaying the upcoming album and cancelled the tour. Hope he beats that tumor’s license to ill.

  12. “This story keeps getting more and more embarrassing. I think I’ll shut up now.”

    Mr. Majestyk – Care to lend me your shovel sometime? :)

  13. I thought that MANIAC COP was boring and a criminal waste of Bruce Campbell. But for some reason, I watched the second entry in the series, and was surprised at how goofy/fun/kickass it was. Part 3 isn’t awful either, it has Jackie Earl Haley and a part where the Maniac Cop drives a car while he’s on fire.

  14. I agree that the first Maniac Cop doesn’t really live up to its potential, while MCIII is very underrated. The second one is by far the best, though, so naturally that’s the only one that isn’t on DVD.

  15. But the series is on at Netflix Instant. Fuck yeah!

    I’ll say this about #1 with the social commentary. Local news interviewing people, and the whites are obviously disturbed and scared, but the black guy shrugs goes on about how this is nothing new. That’s clever. Also the random scene when the woman murders a cop who stopped her over because she heard radio news of this Maniac Cop, and blows away the innocent cop with his handgun.

    That said, maybe MANIAC COP 2 was more fitting with the over-the-top nature for a movie titled MANIAC COP. Also you all forgot to menion that kickass sequence when he storms the police precinct. Too bad the MPAA had to castrate it.

    I would love to see Lustig’s MANIAC though, but it on Netflix. Why? I don’t know.

  16. Holy shit, Maniac Cop 2 is out on DVD. When did this happen? Why was I not informed?

    I don’t get why Netflix doesn’t have Maniac, though. It’s not out of print or anything. Sometimes they just drop the ball on certain movies. Maybe you could drop them a line in the suggestions box and kindly suggest that they get their head out of their ass.

  17. I will MrM.

    BTW, other random stuff on DVD that Netflix doesn’t have in stock…the Beatles’ A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and YELLOW SUBMARINE. Both pretty great and essential 60s cinema viewings. Also Peter Hyams’ fun space western OUTLAND.

    Which is funny since I then found that same DVD at Big Lots for $3 and bought that sunumbitch. Haha fuck you Netflix. I won!

  18. If you haven’t seen MANIAC, and it sounds like the kind of crap you’re into, get yourself to a video store post haste. It’s far from perfect, but it’s got a potently dirty, grimy feel to it, a disturbingly captivating lead performance, and a few accomplished sequences of tension. By far the best of Lustig’s films that I’ve seen.

  19. Yeah, Maniac is pretty fucked up. Unlike most slasher movies, you spend the whole movie hanging out with the killer, not the victims, so you never get any respite from the depravity. He kills somebody, then you go back to his place with him and see how pathetic his life is. You’d almost feel bad for the guy if it weren’t for that whole “killing and scalping prostitutes” thing. Kind of a dealbreaker, in my opinion.

  20. this movie is still not playing near me :(

  21. I love Hurt Locker, such a tense frikkin movie. And I thought of Martin Riggs too during Renner’s first bomb disposing scene. Definitely shades of The Letha Locker or The Hurt Weapon or something there.

    And does anyone else think Renner looks like a young Zach Grenier?

  22. Ya, Hurt Locker was great. Renner’s character definitely has ADD. Addicted to the rush. Needs to keep the dopamine pumping. You’d think Evangeline Lily would be enough, wouldn’t you?

    I kind of wonder why there wasn’t an embedded reporter in the script. Maybe the writer didn’t want it to be too autobiographical.

  23. I just saw this this weekend and liked it, but I was a little disappointed. I wish the writer had spent a few more months embedded in that screenwriting class. I like that he didn’t go with the war movie cliches. That was good. But he did some of the kind of writing I don’t really like where the writer will have something somewhat unrealistic happen to sort of force a scene to go a certain way. Just sort of minor contrivances that feel like they were put in just to get a certain result out of a scene. “Hey, guy I just met five minutes ago, why don’t you root around unattended in the back of our vehicle for our backup wrench? It makes total sense for you, a minor disposable character, to go get the wrench rather than me, someone who will need to make it through the duration of the film. I hope nothing bad happens to you.” I prefer it when I don’t see the writer’s hand forcing a scene like that.

    Also, a lot of people seem to be praising this film as being extremely realistic but I think they must have been watching a different film. I mean, I’m no bomb disposal expert, but even I know that the correct way to disarm a bomb is by making a last second guess between the red wire and the blue wire. When you can’t even get the basics like that down you just hurt your credibility. You’d think if he was embedded with a bomb squad he would know these things. Oh well, it’s still a good movie.

  24. I bet there wasn’t even a big bleeping red digital readout that had to go all the way down to one second before it was shut off.

  25. Top three for me. Great film.

  26. I was worried you weren’t going to review this one Vern (mostly because you said you weren’t sure you’d get to it in your summer movie preview). I’m right there with you on this being the second best film of the year so far (again agreeing with UP as my number one), in part because it worked so well as a counterpoint to the Transformers-type films that we get shit on us. I think that when taken beside a film like Star Trek it’s maybe even more interesting in what it says about masculinity. Star Trek (which I really really loved by the way) glorified the classic risk-taking daredevil cowboy male lead, whereas The Hurt Locker really seemed to take our fascination with that sort of character to task. Renner’s character was confident (arrogant), tough, and funny, much like Kirk, but actually watching that sort of character in this scenario made him come across almost like a sociopath who puts his friends (or co-workers I guess) at risk. The scene where I felt he came across as the most heroic is the sniper scene, when he stays calm and actually talks his team through what they’re doing rather than being the stick-out-your chest cocky tough guy.
    By the way, this movie definately made me feel like we could use some more female directors who were allowed to do non-romantic comedies though.

  27. On a different note, Vern, you gotta review this one:

    You can’t go wrong with Robocop and a rollercoaster chase.

  28. Wow – Perfect timing Mr. Vern – I just walked through the door from having watched this. I loved it.

  29. Stuntcock Mike – Yes SHAKEDOWN, from the director who also was the executive producer of….MANIAC COP.

    Make that review happen Vern!

  30. Yes, yes, but how does it compare to Steven Seagal’s turn as head of a bomb disposal unit in TICKER?

  31. TICKER is a Shitter.

    What else can one expect from Albert Pyun?

  32. Danny – very astute, totally agree. And I love that he is unchanged ultimately – he has to return, and we can’t help but see it as a really dysfunctional kind of heroism (and cowardice, in a sense re. his duty to his family).

    And Dan, I very much had that reaction to the Beckham story. I still don’t think it’s judgmental though – just a nice allegory for the state of things.

    On the politics side of things – has anyone read any of those Big Hollywood reviews on Breitbart? They are terrifying – The guy ripped into Hurt Locker for being a liberal treatise and showing the troops as a bunch of fuck ups and fraidy cats. Anything short of Wayne’s The Green Berets and you can’t win with these guys.

  33. Hey RRA, lay off Pyun man! Nemesis rocks!!! Dollman Rules!! Cyborg…

    Yeah, you’re right – he’s shit.

    Oh and + 1 for the Maniac Cop Chronicles. We need more Davi appreciation up in here.

  34. Oh yes, same Hollywood right-wing goofballs who funded that AMERICAN CAROL bullshit, but not a new John Milius movie.

    I mean like or hate Milius’ politics, at least that dude is(was?) a fucking good filmmaker. No excuse that his last picture was 11 years ago, one funded by (the liberal) Ted Turner.

    Of course I’m the only liberal who has a fondness for RED DAWN, so what do I know?

  35. telf – You know, I always wanted to see Pyun’s RADIOACTIVE DREAMS. You know, that one with Michael Dudikof (AMERICAN NINJA) where some kids get locked in a fallout shelter as nuclear WW3 occurs, and the only things to read in the shelter is mystery/crime books from the 30s/40s. So when they emerge in postapocalyptical America as adults, they only know how to speak like those gumshoe PIs do in those books.

    It’s such a daffy premise, and yet the sort of great bad idea that one is fascinated that someone in Hollywood or overseas actually put together the funds to get it produced.

    CYBORG though is just shit all around. How can one get bored of Van Damme kicking ass? Pyun found a way.

  36. I always imagined that his name sounds like a bullet ricocheting off a rock in an old western.

  37. One might even say that TICKER… is a bomb. (sorry) Actually, one think I liked about TICKER was that Seagal wasn’t the main character, but instead playing a “wise sensei” role. With his penchant for mysticism and sudden, brutal ass-kickings, it seems like the kind of role he was born to play. But yeah, Pyun blows. That RADIOACTIVE DREAMS movies sounds like a pretty interesting concept, though no doubt Pyun finds a way to screw the pooch.

  38. Well, Pyun was an apprentice of Akira Kurosawa at some point. Of course I translate “apprentice” with “coffee boy.” The funniest thing is reading some old interview he had done when CYBORG came out, and he’s praising himself for making “a Sergio Leone-esque western, but in the future with robots.”

  39. RRA. Yeah, James Glickenhaus man. Can’t go wrong. Directed The Soldier and The Exterminator.

  40. telf,

    I don’t know, don’t you think the filmmakers might be trying to make a statement, albiet a subtle one, by including the subplot in the film? Otherwise, why else would they put it in there?

  41. And same Glickenhaus who told Jackie Chan that his “martial arts” would never catch on with Americans. OPPS.

    The best scene in SHAKEDOWN, besides the exploding roller coaster, was Sam Elliott’s introduction as sleeping during a late nite ghetto theatrical screening of THE SOLDIER, attended it seems by only 9 people. All bums and drug junkies I’m sure.

    I can’t hate a director who willingly takes a piss shot at his own movies.

  42. Dan – I agree with you really – I took the sub-plot to be both the analogy you describe and about the futility of trying to find any satisfying motive for staying in the war (for him, for us) – any personal/moral justification – beyond Renner ultimately coming to terms with his addiction/love for it. Whilst I didn’t think that a damningly liberal political idea, the more I really consider it the more obviously left of centre it is – at least as regards the current level of discourse in the states.

    It’s just a shame that any, even quite mild and generally accepted, criticism of the conflict must, by its very nature, be perceived as “liberal”.

    But seriously – read some of the Big Hollywood reviews, they are a very strange form of entertainment.

  43. RRA – Is Shakedown the US name for Blue Jean Cop? I always dug that movie. There aren’t enough legal drama/OTT action films.

  44. telf,

    word up. I think one of the reasons that Bigelow has been discussing the movie in interviews as non-political is because all the anti-war movies have been bombs. for some reason that shit scares people away, it’s a shame.

    do you have a link to those reviews?

  45. Here you go Dan – http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/

    You may need a stiff drink…

    It’s a shithole and I hate to give them traffic – but I believe in employing the Robert Anton Wilson technique of “extreme empathy” which is much easier to do in the internet age (he used to have to subscribe to crazy rightwing and socialst, christian and satanist magazines to get his fix – we can just click away).

    What’s so pathetic is that it is supposed to be a movie site with a right wing bias – but they constantly discard the movie stuff to just spout talking points and opinion journalism on news stories – even though they are already the goofy entertainment section of a right wing news site (Breitbart). But the reviews, when they do them, take the cake – the quality of a film is completely defined by it’s adherence to the tenets of (neo) conservatism. If there is no political red meat to gnaw on then the reviews are completely hum-drum and voiceless in the worst internet critic way.

    This guy, John Nolte, is the worst. He says he is an experienced writer, director, producer (and, ahem, he is http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0756621/ … ) – but his main concern is, of course politics http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/author/jjmnolte/ . If you want the highlights just check out his Hurt Locker, Away We Go and Bruno reviews on that page, and at the very bottom there is a piece called “The Hurt Locker” Hollywood’s idea of “not political”.


    The 5 American moments is pretty good too.

    Why do these people equate criticism to a lack of patriotism? I’m an independent Brit – and yes our conservatives are more likely to wrap themselves in the flag – but they would never dream of questioning an opponents britishness.

  46. While my last point sits in moderator limbo (might have put too many links in it) – back to the film…

    Did anyone think the use of cameo roles was fantastic?


    The way they just off Guy and Ralph (particularly the latter) made you think anything could happen to anyone. I half expected Kate from Lost to get Hunsakered in the kitchen…

  47. telf – Yeah SHAKEDOWN is the (generic) American title.

    Random off-topic story, but I found out about SHAKEDOWN/BLUE JEAN COP from watching Siskel & Ebert reruns on YouTube, when they fucking dissing the shit out of Peter Hyams’ lame THE PRESIDIO. At that time I was going to review PRESIDIO, but then those two bring up in contrast a “good” buddy actioneer in…SHAKEDOWN.

    And I think, wow I never heard of this SHAKEDOWN, and hey Robocop and Sam Elliott together…must be worth a watch. And it is. Thanks.

    The whole climax with Elliott hanging on the jetplane over NYC and blowing it up was like an outtake from COMMANDO.

  48. Here’s some reviews Dan – Exceprt from my post that’s still awaiting moderation:

    http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/author/jjmnolte/ . If you want the highlights just check out his Hurt Locker, Away We Go and Bruno reviews on that page, and at the very bottom there is a piece called “The Hurt Locker” Hollywood’s idea of “not political”.

    RRA – It’s a fun movie for sure. Did you ever read the Elvis Cole books – Weller in that movie is the closest I’ve seen to someone doing Crais’ character justice.

    I love the casual grenade use throughout the movie – like they’re standard issue with the badge and gun – doesn’t he breach a door with them too?

  49. Because of Shakedown, I often say that people are “new to the planet.” I have been doing this for, gosh, 20 years now, and no one ever gets it. When someone does, that someone will be my friend for life.

  50. telf,

    That’s some shit, huh? It’s like he was actively searching for something to offend him in THE HURT LOCKER. He never mentions the fact that the movie works to build empathy for the soliders, that we care about them and that 90% of the impression given of them is positive. He makes the movie sound like Brian De Palma’s REDACTED or something.

  51. REDACTED it absolutely isn’t.

    James Cameron described it as “PLATOON for Iraq”…and that might very well make it the front-runner heading through the Oscar bait glut of December/January. Of course Cameron might be a tad biased, but still he probably hit it right on the head.

    Of course then again, PLATOON got attacked back in the day by some (right wing) quarters for showing (some) Americans as (sometimes) blowing shit/people up and not taking responsibility for it, and other not so nice things.

    Which was why Orion/Hemdale had that whole advertizing campaign making big water out of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam credentials….to shut up those critics and emphasize that “factual” element.And you know, Stone at times to me comes off as too much of a prick or lefter-wing for me…but give the guy credit he did volunteer, he did serve, and won a medal or two. I mean that’s more than our Baby Boomer Presidents ever did in their youth regarding Nam.

    Also he scripted SCARFACE.

  52. Yeah – it’s all too strange for me. This isn’t the ways to engage with movies – or any art form. You don’t see Vern dismissing Dirty Harry because he doesn’t agree with it’s politics – you can make mention of it, but it shouldn’t define your critical perspective.

    Obviously Rambo and Rocky 4 are jingoistic nonsense – but they are also very enjoyable in their own ways.

    I just can’t get into the mindset of someone who is so blinkered by their worldview that they can’t enjoy a movie as relatively even handed politically as Hurt Locker clearly is.

    And i just don’t buy that Hollywood pushes a mostly left wing agenda. I would say the vast majority of studio movies play centre-right to centre-left.

  53. I would just like to thank the fine people posting here for mentioning SHAKEDOWN. It inspired me to watch it last night on Netflix Instant Viewing, and I must say I had a shitload of fun with it. Thanks guys!

  54. Remember that George Clooney Oscar speech years back of how progressive Hollywood is? That’s bullshit. I mean is progress when between 40+ years, only two black actors won the Best Actor Oscar (Piotier/Denzel)? Its not like they were the only good black actors out there at that time.

    Or for that matter, why haven’t we gotten a gay action hero yet? No TRANSPORTER cut it, I mean all out sausage fest-fellow/flamboyant ass-kicker? We had that Dubya/NeoCon nonsense of wanting to strip citizens of their civil rights, and now the Democrats who either want to continue that tradition or don’t want to do jack shit. Like President Obama. 70% support for repealing DADT? They’ll say “so what?”

    The goods is there to make a delicious B-exploitation actioneer with the gay political angle. Rednecks have WALKING TALL, hippies of the 70s had BILLY JACK, blacks of course had blaxploitation, and well…trust me, its there if only someone with courage, imagination, and know how to blow shit up can pull it off.

    And truely I think Hollywood dropped the ball during the Dubya years, at least when it could have counted. You all may laugh, but only three American movies made a great poignant statement/criticism of Dubya America at the time: The BOURNE series. Disguised as action/thrillers, but they sure were apt in slamming everything wrong with that “War on Terror” in execution and application.

    I could also count CHILDREN OF MEN. Still thats what, only 4 movies? All having to hide behind genres to get away with their Fuck Yous?

    You suck Hollywood.

  55. Dan Prestwich – Speaking for Majestyk and other boys…Your welcome. My favorite SHAKEDOWN touch is Peter Weller the lawyer forced to become an action hero. And he kicks that ass off very well.

    Best (awesome) scene: “No actually its….fuck you, asshole.”

  56. I think the idea a gay hitman movie isn’t too far-fetched, since “hitman” seem to be Hollywoodese for “disenfranchised loner.” That would be a stepping stone to a full-on homosexual tough guy who’ll expose all of the prejudices and preconceptions of the so-called manly men whose asses he kicks.

    Then again, does Gay Perry from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang count?

  57. “Obviously Rambo and Rocky 4 are jingoistic nonsense – but they are also very enjoyable in their own ways.”

    My problem with RAMBO 2 and 3 isn’t the politics. In plotting, both could have been terrific tight action spectacles with then-topical settings. Soviets stuck with their own Vietnam? A victim of the Vietcong POW camps* going back for revenge? Why not?

    With action movies, I have a “stupid quota.” That is, every action movie depends on you to suspend your physics and logic here and there to make possible the movie. But if you overflow the quota, fuck you movie. Well RAMBO 2 and 3 were just so damn cartoonishly daffy and ridiculous (not the good kind), I hate them.

    RAMBO/JOHN RAMBO has the same politics, but not as cartoonish, just fucking overkill violent. So that’s good. Of course they all pale to the original action classic FIRST BLOOD. I mean we get behind that bullied hero, and his guerilla war seems rather frighteningly plausible. Also based off a terrific book too, though THE HUNTED in tone and ending is more faithful than BLOOD the picture.

    And I’m glad BLOOD changed the ending. For once, a happy ending of some sort is warranted.

    *=#2, along with those MISSING IN ACTION and UNCOMMON VALOR pictures, bother me. Our government really fucked up by not paying Hanoi that $4 billion. I know I know, we don’t negotiate with terrorists, blah blah. But we lost that war already, especially for several years, it was time to get those guys home. Instead we said fuck it, declared them dead, and left them to rot to die. And pretended there was nothing we could do but etch more names on the Wall.

  58. “Then again, does Gay Perry from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang count?”

    Sorta, but that was more a joke at Heartland America…you know, the queer is the more disciplined, knowledgeable, capable action figure than the straight-but-disfunctional Downey.

    No what I want is those exploitation titles I mentioned, where for a proxy hero for a group of people that is traditionally shit on by society or government….a proxy who won’t take that crap anymore, and shove it back in their throats. Remember Billy Jack the hippie/Indian who beats the shit out of those white racist assholes (i.e. Nixon/Wallace)? Or for that matter, SWEETBACK which shocked black audiences back in the day because you had that scene when Marvin Van Pebbles beats up that white cop, and gets away ultimately.

    That sort of subversive filmatic attitude is what I want, the sort that might destroy dumb stereotypes that we still persist upon. I mean come on, how many whites thought being black might be cool in its own unique way before SHAFT and James Brown? Not many.

  59. RRA – it’s a great idea – you could also have fun with how homo-erotic a lot of action movie tropes are – the overt male-bonding, the shirtlessness, the sado-masochism and fetishization of weapons.

    I get you on Rambo – I would never argue that 2 and 3 are legitimately good movies in the normal sense – but I would say that the movies seem to offend your sense of good taste or propriety more than just your political worldview, and that is fair enough-I think taste has to be an essential part of critique and is certainly a more justifiable criteria than one’s political stance/agenda. You could argue that the latest one is every bit as mad and right wing as the other First Blood sequels, it just doesn’t revel in caricaturing a situation that we westerners are likely to be sensitive to.

    A good example is the novel Starship Troopers – it doesn’t have any of the overt satire of the movie – it describes a fascist utopia without judgment or criticism. Now, I completely disagree with it’s values, but I also think it’s a great, really well written Sci Fi story. Whereas Ayn Rand’s utopian stuff rubs me the wrong way because they are mostly just political screeds hitched together by poorly written “stories” and “characters”.

    But the Rambo movies are strange because the first one seems so critical and sensitive to the issues it deals with and then the sequels are these insane wish-fulfillment fantasies.

    For me, part of the fun of 2 and especially 3 is how wrong headed they are. Regardless of all this they both have a couple of excellent action sequences (although, more in 2 than 3 imo).

  60. Glad you liked Shakedown Dan. Although I think we should start a grass-roots movement to get it re-named back to it’s much more evocative international title “Blue Jean Cop”.

  61. No offense, but I understand why Universal changed the title. I mean BLUE JEAN COP…what is that? A comedy?

    But thats my opinion, and yes it does at least stick out more than a generic label like SHAKEDOWN.

  62. Oh absolutely – It’s a wierd title. But they don’t have to market it to the masses anymore – I just know that if I was channel-surfing at 3 am and came across Shakedown I may pass. If I saw Blue Jean Cop, I believe I would hit “info”…

    Of course this is all nonsense – If you have ever seen the poster for this movie then you know that it doesn’t even need a title. It should just be called Peter Weller and Sam Elliot!

  63. Thanks Vern, I hadn’t even heard of this movie but will now definitely check it out!

  64. I think this is one of the best “war”-movies of recent years. The scenes of the team defusing the bombs are among the most intense I´ve ever seen.

    I actually got to meet Kathryn Bigelow at a Film Festival many years ago. She was there to screen “Strange Days” and I must´ve been about 15 years old. I walked up to her in the lobby afterwards and told her much I loved the film and that I was a huge fan of NEAR DARK. She laughed, told me that no matter where she goes, someone always brings up that movie. Then she gave me a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek and ever since that day I´ve been secretly in love with Kathryn Bigelow. It´s good to see that she´s still got it. THE HURT LOCKER is an amazing film!

  65. Re: BLUE JEAN COP, there’s also a 1978 poliziotteschi (Italian crime drama) film called THE COP IN BLUE JEANS. It would have been cool if they’d done a crossover film. Tomas Milian and Sam Elliot are… A PAIR OF JEANS.

  66. Also, I love the idea of a gay action hero. Some time ago I had an idea for a movie about a gay assassin. People underestimate him and mock him for his sexual orientation, but he is so cold-blooded and capable that he uses it to his advantage eg he seduces and kills an ultra right wing closeted politician in an airport bathroom. During the film he is stalked by a closeted gay cop who is in love with him and obsessed with bringing him down. Naturally by the end of the film they team up to fight the real bad guys. Man, you could take all that John Woo male bonding to a whole new level.

    RRA: I’ve heard people argue till they’re blue in the face that the STARSHIP TROOPERS novel is also satire and that the movie ruined it by making the satire too broad and cartoony. I’d argue that the cartoony satire is what made the movie fun as opposed to Heinlein’s book which I found a bit of a slog (and pretty much took at face value). Ayn Rand blows though, no argument there.

  67. CrustaceanHate: Sorta.

    Fantasy (i.e. exaggeration) is used to forward a filmmaker/author’s politics to make them applicable. Which is why usually whether we agree or not with said politics, we enjoy or hate a film on its artistic/entertainment value.

    Heinlein was a libertarian right winger, and I suppose in some ways STARSHIP TROOPERS was his (exaggerated) take on what a future military would be. Like officers/generals, those assholes behind desks who send men to die in droves actually fight too. But that said, his fantasy was straightforward seriousness, and not exactly easy to detect “parody”. Thus both interpretations hold water.

    And well, obviously we know which interpretation the movie took regarding the book. Though we can’t forget its a military adventure book written by an American…as adapted by a European. Culture contrast galore, hilarity ensues. My favorite unnoticed touches is the future fascist govt. pushing football (a war-like strategy game) to the youth to play, and even inclusive the once rebellious rock n roll anti-authority spirit into a canned sterilized party.

    And you know, thats a director taking auteur independence on the material, and with success. Unlike that one filmmaker I’ve recently been slapping around. I won’t name him, except know his name rhymes with “Bak Nyder”

  68. I swear to Christ if you go see this movie take tums. Damn thing ate through my stomach lining.

  69. Maybe TUMS should make a commercial around that.

    “Before you experience war under THE HURT LOCKER, take some trusty comrades with you!”

  70. RRA: A big chunk of the book is Rico being lectured to in a classroom, where I think it’s pretty obvious that the teachers are just mouthpieces for Heinlein’s political views. It was almost as bad as Rand in that respect. It’s there that I think any notion of the book being satire are blown out of the water. Certainly there are parts of the book that are exaggerated but Heinlein championed the notion of military service whereas Verhoeven portrayed it as simpletons marching glibly to their death. Still, I swear I remember people at the time the STARSHIP TROOPERS movie came out arguing that the movie was an endorsement of facism so I guess everyone has a different definition of satire.

  71. I can’t believe the director of Strange Days ended up making point blank ended up doing Hurt Locker is actually a Woman.

    The last bit I was surprised at sounds really sexist but I am always really surprised when any director is a woman so maybe we should blame the film industry or something. Anyway yeah, I must have seen this one a good 6 months ago but I remember quite enjoying it. The whole Guy Pearce thing at the start kind of threw me (cos i’m australian) not his kind of role I think, but then he *spoilers* blows up *spoilers* so it’s ok I guess.

    What I thought was really interesting was the whole “defusing the trigger” aspect of the bomb defusal scenario. Most hollywood movies would have you believe there’s usually 47 triggers all interlocking and can only be solved by doing a rubik’s cube in under a minute, then closing your eyes and cutting the green wire; but here it’s really just the most basic of devices (with a couple of exceptions).

  72. Can’t wait for this ! Here in Italy we have to wait a little longer , but I’m a big fan of Near Dark , Point Break and Strange Days. Speaking of Strange Days , I always find it funny when The Rock says that DooM was the first film to use a point of view sequence , when in reality it’s Strange Days the first point of view sequence that I remember. Terminator did it before , but in my opinion the opening of Strange Days takes the cake. In DooM p.o.v. was also used as a major selling point ( even the poster is in first person…) , in Strange Days it was just a director trying something different. In short : Kathryn Bigelow , always entertaining , and with a good track record!!

  73. Did the Rock really say that? That would be silly. What about BLACK CHRISTMAS and HALLOWEEN? Plus plenty of others before that I’m sure. I’m sure there’s probaly even a gimmick movie where the whole thing is in the POV of a character.

  74. THE LADY IN THE LAKE is a 1947 Philip Marlowe detective movie shot almost entirely from Marlowe’s POV. It comes off as really awkward, but the stupid gimmick makes the movie watchable and kinda funny.

    Although I haven’t seen, around that same time DARK PASSAGE with Humphrey Bogart apparently tried a similar gimmick, which extended portions of the film being shot from Bogey’s POV.

    And I’m willing to bet there were other movies before that.

  75. I guess it’s the first action film to have a full on lengthy gun fight from a POV perspective? I can’t think of any others that have a full action sequence done like that.

    Oh and Vern, I just checked your review list and realised you haven’t reviewed Nic Cage’s “beige volvo” trilogy! Con Air, The Rock and Face/Off. Released between 1996 and 1997 and make up late 90s Hollywood’s best action films. I can’t think of many Hollywood action films after that that are as big, cheesy, audacious and actually pretty damn good.

    As much as I love superhero flicks and the The Matrix inspired action films of the 00s, there really aren’t many action films made anymore like they had in the 80s and 90s and I do miss them a bit.

  76. THE ROCK sucks, and CON AIR can kiss my ass. But FACE/OFF was awesome.

    Michael Bay, Simon West, and John Woo. Compare their track records and their supposed “highlights” and well…this is a poorly booked triple threat match.

    Also, would anyone else agree with me that BOURNE IDENTITY inspired our decade’s action cinema much more than THE MATRIX? Just a muse, not a slam at MATRIX, which I remembered liking.

  77. I think it is a bit half and half:

    Immediately after ‘The Matrix’ every hack wanna-be cool director wanted to have “HK-style” fight scenes in their movie. (Ex: Charlie’s Angels, Equilibrium)

    That wore off so then Bourne 2 came out and audiences and other directors somehow convinced themselves that ‘shaky cam’ is “more realistic” and thus ‘more involving/emotional’. How they came to this conclusion I don’t know. (Ex: Batman Begins, Quantum of Solace (Nolan, Forster, Greengrass – why do arthouse directors use it?), Star Trek (worst offender yet in my opinion)

    Now I hope some other old school or HK-influenced action film would come out and make tons of money so they hack wanna-be cool directors can go back to making good action scenes.

  78. Well mate to be fair, MATRIX ripped off Woo in the first place. And I don’t believe the Wachowkis ever denied that. So I guess it can blame that on Maestro Woo.

    And shakey cam was around before Greengrass…in Michael Bay. Someone else the other day was arguing that technique was used also briefly in that antanae fight sequence in Martin Campbell’s GOLDENEYE. I need to watch that again to affirm, but who knows?

    You talk about the “realism and gritty”, but its evident of this decade with Dubya and everything else that happened in geopolitics. Something similar, if not the exact same, occured in the 70s.

    Personally, I’m rooting for an Andrew Davis comeback.

  79. The reason art directors use it is because they are unsure how to stage action scenes and lack confidence to just let the camera roll. At least, that’s the impression I get from guys like Nolan and Forster (although Nolan did get better between BB and DK). With Greengrass I get the sense that that’s his style and it’s how he shoots movies, even ones without kung-fu. And as a single entity, detached from the conversation about which one is better, the style does lend itself really well to Bourne movies.

  80. I like the Rock , he’s funny , he’s good in action movies and if you watch “Be Cool” you can say that the guy has sense of humor and he’s trying to do something different and not only action. He’s really passionate , and you can say that by watching his interviews. But in interviews he always talks too much ( he spoiled the ending of DooM in almost every promotional piece!) . He’s getting carried away by how much fun he’s having , I understand that , but first person shooting was done before in Terminator , during the police HQ assault ( the first POV scene that I remember ) , and that movie is just full of little scenes like that. Two-Minute Warning ( 1976 Charlton Heston! ) has a long shot of the killer assembling a sniper rifle , firing , then getting away ( I’m not sure , but i think he also drives away ). In Predator I don’t remember if he shoots , but the titular Predator has a couple of pov scenes ( like the scorpion one).

  81. He just said “for the first time in movies you’re gonna see the first person shooter.” So he’s just talking about turning the style of those video games into a movie. Let’s not pick apart his words like he’s a politician or something, he’s not running for governor yet.

  82. From my personal knowledge the first use of shaky cam was in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ back in 1969.

    Bay says he uses it because he ‘wants (my) audience inside the action!!’

  83. Actually shaky cam predates ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE by quite a bit. Here’s a very good post on the subject by David Bordwell, a man who knows quite a bit more about movies than most people.

  84. In that case, Bay fails because no matter how explosions or cars or CGI or how high the budget….his action always bores me. The easy danger with shakey cam is that your mind processes what its is seen, and try to establish a pattern of some sort of spatial geography to keep in reference.

    Well with Bay, he tosses that ole camera around so much….there comes a time when I just quit bothering to make that pattern, and not give a shit. I mean come on, I liked DROP ZONE. Its not like I’m being a snob or anything.

    And yet with Greengrass’ shakey cam, I have a clear idea of what is going on (usually). How does he do it? Also helps that his BOURNE shit actually have engaging action narrative and of course the politics.

  85. Well I said it was funny for him to say “for the first time in movies you’re gonna see this” , because it’s not true , I wasn’t trying to pick apart his words , especially because he’s clearly excited for being in the movie and passionate about his work , and sometimes he talks too much. I remember being disappointed when he revealed the ending twist , but , well , at least he’s always funny , not like Joaquin Phoenix or Bale, in interviews. I also remember , on the WWE website , a couple of short interviews with him promoting the movie , when he said the same things : the BFG is cool , I turn into a monster at the end and the POV sequence . I think they were trying to push that scene as the selling point of the movie , so he was maybe encouraged to talk about that sequence , to “create hype”.

    I don’t know if he will ever be a politician , but he was in both the Republican and Democratic convention in 2000 ( for a WWE special called Smackdown your Vote , like Mick Foley and JBL a few years later ). I sure hope for a Mick Foley political career !!!!!

  86. Sorry, but the 3rd Bourne movie was (from a visual point only) maybe the most unwatchable movie ever. I can follow Bay without any trouble, I survived Cloverfield in theatre without even feeling bad afterwards, but Bourne 3 on TV gave me not just a headache for the rest of the day, it also made me agressive, because ofthe high tempos of the editing. I couldn’t even count to 2 until the next cut came up! And please believe me when I assure you, that I’m not hyperbolic here. Not to mention that the actionscenes looked like a video art installation, where you only see some wishy washy colours, intercut with very quick close ups of Matt Damon.
    I think shakycam can be an interesting tool, but outside of “24” and “Children Of Men” I never saw anybody using it right. There it really makes you feel like you are inside the action, without never missing a thing, while everywhere else it just feels distracting and can look amateurish *cough*BSG*cough*

    Anyway, that reminds me of a video that i wanted to make for months. Maybe I’ll do it tonight and post it here tomorrow. It has to do with the modern visual style of (action) cinema.

  87. RRA,

    Regarding Grengrass’s Bourne movies. My understanding is that he tends to shoot a lot of footage, covering the action scenes from tons of different angles, and then he spends months in the editing room working on the action scenes. He takes a lot of care to select shots that clearly show the needed visual information, and arranges the shots for maximum flow/energy. The problem with other directors who try for the shakey cam style is that I don’t think they shoot as much coverage and spend as much time piecing it together in the editing room.

  88. “Sorry, but the 3rd Bourne movie was (from a visual point only) maybe the most unwatchable movie ever.”

    CJ Holden – I would consider all the HIGHLANDER sequels to be even more unwatchable. And GIGLI too. Also MANOS, but everyone else kicks that one down, so…I’ll join in.

    Dan Prestwich – I didn’t know that, and it makes sense.

  89. I did feel like the third Bourne movie had more shaky camerawork than it would’ve even if it was a real documentary. But for the most part I understood what was going on and the action was effective. For anybody else who’s seen HURT LOCKER, how do you think it ranks in the shakycam movies? I thought it was totally effective, didn’t have a problem with it in this one.

  90. Word, Vern. Bigelow is an expert visual stylist, she’s not going to allow an incoherent shot in one of her films. It’s not anywhere near Bourne-style shakey-ness, more of just a constant bouncy look to make the audience feel unsettled. I think she’s more of the school of carefully framing a shot and then shaking the camera just enough to add energy without becoming a blur.

    Certainly it’s miles away from Marc Forster in QUANTUM OF SOLACE shaking the camera until everything becomes a Jackson Pollack painting and cutting between shots that don’t logically progress the story.

  91. “and cutting between shots that don’t logically progress the story.”

    He tried to be arthouse with the action cinema.

    I think.

    Vern – I got a dumb question: When you reviewing the BOURNE series?

  92. @RRA – When I said “from a visual point only” I meant that Bourne 3 LOOKS like unwatchable shit to me. I’m sure there are a million worse writte, acted and directed movies outthere (not just because apart from the camera work and editing it was a pretty good movie), but this is the only one whichs visual style I absolutely hate. It wasn’t that bad in part 2, but part 3 was unwatchable in terms of camerawork and editing.

  93. Chopper Sullivan

    August 3rd, 2009 at 2:40 am

    Hey Vern, what do you think about the rumor of Jeremy Renner being in the running for Mad Max?

  94. “LOOKS like unwatchable shit to me.” – So does BATTLEFIELD EARTH. :)

    Chopper Sullivan – Sure why not?

  95. Chopper – I think it’s funny since I predicted he would be Captain America. The source of the rumor is that he said in an interview that he was screentesting for a Mad Max movie. He doesn’t actually say he’d be playing Mad Max, so that part of it is speculation.

    If Gibson won’t do Mad Max I’m hoping an Australian would play him (maybe Bana). For an American Renner is a good choice, but I’d rather he play another character.

  96. i remember this guy as Stoner Kid #1 in National Lampoon’s Senior Trip. glad he’s making something of himself. Haven’t seen Dahmer yet, but he was good in 28 Weeks Later.

    this ranks highly in the shakey cam genre. all directors interested in that style should take note. ‘controlled chaos’ would be the best way to describe it. this woman knows how to keep things tense, realistic and far from nauseating. as far as recent war movies go, this has a place at the head of the table. a movie that i’d naturally assume never watch again, but probably will.

  97. coincidentally just watched Near Dark again last week too. better than i remembered. besides the whole blood transfusion cop out, but you can’t blame her for that shit.

  98. Rented it today on DVD. Watched only the opening scene of it so far, but let me tell you that it’s even more intense, when all of a sudden some kids outside let off a firecracker in front of your house!

  99. Just saw it. Fucking awesome. What’s weird is I that while I was watching it, I had no idea that Ralph Fiennes and David Morse were in it, it wasn’t until I looked at the back case I realized they were in it. Can’t believe how good a movie this was.

  100. Brendan – Yup, and Bigelow the other day won the DGA Award. Not just the first woman to win it*, but that fucker is usually a precursor of who will win the Director Oscar.

    That’s right folks: The director of POINT BREAK may very well win the Oscar.

    *=I could so see her leave a taunting message on Sofia Coppola’s answering machine.

  101. Man, whether it’s Basterds or Avatar or Locker, I’m cool with whichever one wins Best Picture. I’d like to see Bigelow win Director, the scene with the British unit alone should win it for her.

  102. Did you guys hear that one the real-life bomb squad techs with whom the screenwriter was embedded is suing the movie because he thinks they ripped off his whole personality? The part where his story falls apart is when he claims to have invented the title of the movie. Dude, I’m sure you’re a bad motherfucker, but everybody knows the term “hurt locker” comes from TANGO & CASH.

  103. Mr. M – And Chuck Wepner called that bomb techie. He said to quit whining.

  104. Hey ole’ Jeremy Renner was announced as Hawkeye at ComicCon during The Avengers panel. Good shit.

    But kicking Ed Norton out for Mark Ruffalo to play the Hulk? Not cool Marvel.

  105. I almost called it in this review, right? “I’m gonna go ahead and predict that they’ll give him one of the big comic book roles.” I’m right about these things sometimes. Except I’m not sure Hawkman counts as one of the big comic book roles.

  106. The Hurt Locker and Michael Bay are on the opposite sides of the spectrum. The Michael Bay action formula is: the more you increase the amount of activity on screen, the more exciting the action is.

    The deal with The Hurt Locker is that it sets up these rules where any activity on screen is a really bad thing and needs to be avoided. Michael Bay has to create an even bigger explosion to milk more excitement but Kathryn Bigelow just has a cell phone start ringing.

    They do share one thing in common though. The actual meaning of the activity is mysterious. Is this ringing cellphone contributing towards shit escalating towards disaster or is it merely incidental? Similarly, the precise meaning and consequence of the various explosions and camera whirls in Michael Bay is opaque and unknowable to the viewer.

    The Hurt Locker, in my opinion, belongs to a discipline invented by THE WAGES OF FEAR. A French movie from the early 50’s that is perhaps cinema’s definitive suspense masterpiece, about desperate lowlifes tasked with driving trucks packed with nitroglycerin over treacherous mountain roads. Dig that it is precisely the same technique: any turbulence or abrupt temperature change will cause the nitro to vaporize these dudes, so almost nothing can happen during the action sequences if these guys are gonna live.

    It’s also really crazy that it’s a French film from the 50’s but is 100% fully realized as far as the sets, visuals, etc. It has the authentic physicality of those old Herzog jungle pictures.

    I don’t understand why so few movies get this magic formula. It is clearly the way to go vs. the Bay technique.

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